Filmmaker Danny Boyle has tackled almost every genre under the sun. Thrillers (“Shallow Grave“), sci-fi and space adventure (“Sunshine“), post-apocalyptic horror (“28 Days Later“), romantic comedies (“A Life Less Ordinary“), hipster drug movies (“Trainspotting“), international dramas with romance and intrigue (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Beach“) and more, but one genre that has eluded the director thus far is the musical.
While never confirmed — or no one seemed to ask him — Boyle was rumored to be involved in a musical remake of “My Fair Lady,” but it never came to pass. While that particular effort wasn’t discussed in this KCRW interview with John Horn, the musical form itself was.
Boyle once again said that he was developing two period piece films set in England, but was sidetracked when Horn asked Boyle if the period piece was one in the many restaurants he liked to eat at — using different cuisines as an analogy for different genres. Boyle took the analogy and ran with it, but pivoted the conversation to the subject of musicals.
“Well, there’s the musical restaurant which we may never eat at unfortunately. I’d love to but… that’s the toughest challenge of all I think, an original musical,” he said, stressing an original approach was the only way to go. “Yeah, you’d absolutely want to do it with an original, not from a stage show, originally created for cinema with music.”
Boyle then revealed that his kids’ movie “Millions” (also a bit of thriller about greed, one of his favorite recurring topics, see “Trance” and “Shallow Grave”) should have been the film he and his team made as a musical. “It’s not impossible, it’s finding the right vehicle for it where people can burst into song. And we had one: ‘Millions’ was the vehicle,” he said. And we didn’t have the confidence at that time to push it through. If we were approaching ‘Millions’ now I’d definitely do it as a musical. It’s the perfect vehicle for singing. There’d be no strangeness about it, you’d just accept it.”
“That’s what you’re looking for with a musical and it has — you can’t create it it kinda has to arise naturally out of a story,” he continued. “It’s just poeticizing, isn’t it? It’s that beautiful moments — you do it with stories when you find an image that poeticizes a dilemma or a character and that’s what a musical does with a the souls of a character — it just poeticizes them and allows them to sing. I would love to still do that at one point.”
Maybe one day? Boyle’s latest, the art-heist mindbender, “Trance,” is in theaters now.